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Will the digital numbers really stack up? - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

25 February 2017

50 trillion pages printed a year, of which, less than 5% is digital. And even less, in India. Digital print industry in India has been in decline since a high of 2008. But Balaji Rajagopalan says digital printing market in India has evolved over the years. “There are several drivers which will contribute to digital printing’s growth in India.”

In this Sunday Column, the man at the helm of Xerox India discloses how the digital giant plans to up the technology ante to arrest the decline despite challenges.

balaji-rajagopalan-new Balaji Rajagopalan of Xerox India

PrintWeek India (PWI): Tell us what is the status of the "new" re-structured Xerox in India? Is there a separate document outsourcing division? And a document technology business, with document outsourcing?
Balaji Rajagopalan (BR): Xerox is an $11bn technology company and a Fortune 500 company with deep industry expertise focused on innovating the way the world communicates, connects and works. We have strong presence in document management, document outsourcing and graphic communications. We will continue to lead innovation in automation, content management, digital communications, analytics and printing for a variety of customers – small and mid-sized businesses, large enterprises, governments, graphic communications providers and partners.

PWI: 50 trillion pages printed a year, of which, less than 5% is digital. And even less, in India. When are the digital print numbers going to stack up?
BR: The digital printing market in India has evolved over the years and there are several drivers contributing to this growth: the rise of applications and solutions; increased versioning and personalisation to make targeted printing for end-users; improved levels of service to customers; and providing new opportunities to help customers grow their business. 

BR: Xerox sits at the intersection of analogue and digital and we are in a position to witness and impact several profound shifts in the way the world interact. Our ability to combine hardware and software has never been more valuable than in today’s world where digitisation is blurring the lines between hardware and software, and connecting the digital and physical worlds to transform industries.

For example, if you see our digital presses, they are segmented in a way that customers can customise digital and analogue settings based on their business needs, enabling the machine to add value to their business. 

PWI: Would it be fair to say the digital print industry in India has been in decline since a high of 2008, and as a business Xerox has been declining, as well? How is Xerox proposing to get this business back to growth? Less focus on kit sales and more focus on annuity?
BR:
Xerox has an attractive business model and operating system. We participate in an $85 billion market and are also the market share leader in equipment revenue for 27 consecutive quarters. Our business is 75% annuity based which offers great stability and we have strong, long-standing relationships with our clients, which leads to high renewal rates. 

We are transforming our cost base and bringing new products and solutions to market through additional distribution channels which will enable us to improve the revenue trajectory over time. We are looking at every area of the business and streamlining our organisational structure – aligning geographically to consolidate our P&Ls, reducing matrix management and management layers by 30%, consolidating and right shoring back office support functions, while also reducing our real estate footprint.

Our strategy to drive profitability and growth includes a focus on innovation and research to develop the products that customers need and breaking into and focusing on new segments and markets.

The overall printing business in India is certainly shaping up positively. The pattern of printing is evolving and changing, but the need of printing still continues to exist. However, industry analysts predict that by 2020, the growth in digital print could add $10-billion to annual industry shipments – growing 7% annually. And since digital printing is currently still a relatively small percentage of the total printing market, the shift from analogue to digital represents the beginning of a significant trend, affecting operations through the industry.

We are optimistic that the market will continue to grow and some of the products we plan to launch in the next couple of months will certainly make an impact in the Indian market.

PWI: Jeff Jacobson says toner technology is 85% of the way there. So, in that sense what more can be done with the fifth station on the iGen or metallics or clear?
BR: The addition of clear dry ink in the fifth station expands iGen 5’s versatility and allows us to offer to customers a distinctive selection of specialty finishing options that will really make an impact. When one is running jobs they don’t require any specialty effects, the operators can simply swap out the dry ink and add an optional fifth colour that enables the press to match brand colours and Pantone colours with more accuracy and consistency than ever before. 

Additionally, customers can take advantage of the unique effects that can transform any ordinary printed piece. Marketing collaterals, packaging materials, business cards, direct mail and postcards are personalised and enhanced, helping providers meet current and future business opportunities.

Xerox workflow software helps coordinate job batching based on which ink is loaded into the fifth station, ensuring the flow of work is optimized continuously. Operators can change colours in the fifth station in less than 30-minutes.

PWI: The last time you met PrintWeek India you were excited about the possibilities in the workflow solutions. Any update ?
BR: We have several new updates:

XMPie Campaigns-on-Demand, announced at Graph Expo in 2016, expands the capabilities of web-to-print to include the ability to order multichannel campaigns directly from the web-to-print store combining any workflow along with multiple touch points. Branded multichannel campaigns can now be easily created with flow patterns that include touch-points of various media along with web, email or mobile development. The end user can select, customize, order, execute and track each campaign directly from the web-to-print storefront. Users are also able to view real-time campaign analytics and download up-to-date customer data, all in a self-serve manner.

PWI: The strategic partnership with EFI for FreeFlow?
BR: Yes, that agreement includes the sale of Xerox’s FreeFlow® Print Server (FFPS) DFE business to EFI. Under the terms of this deal, EFI will continue to produce and support FFPS so current customers do not experience interruptions in sales or service.

FreeFlow Core 5.0, now available in two cloud configurations, is an intelligent automation platform that streamlines prepress activities to increase productivity and reduce costs. This new solution brings workflow automation within reach for small and medium businesses (SMBs) at an even lower entry price point. Additionally, FreeFlow Digital Publisher allows users to provide both print and mobile/online communications simultaneously using a single, unified workflow. Two new output options – Custom Storefront and Mobile Course Packs – help print providers meet more demanding application requirements for end clients.

PWI: How would FreeFlow Digital Publisher benefit the publishing industry?
BR:
The publishing industry in India is moving from ‘print and distribute’ to ‘distribute and print’, also popularly known as ‘Book of One’ concept and Xerox’s FreeFlow Core fits into this very well. With the advent of the eCommerce portals, ‘Book of one’ printing is where we see the market moving and we at Xerox are geared for it. This concept will drastically reduce warehouse space with just in time concept and also unleash the power of customization in the book publishing space. Another advantage of the eCommerce space is the know-how of the consumer habit thereby opening up to the trans-promo space which can lead to an automation revolution of sorts through personalized products being printed on demand.

PWI: Inkjet? One more Drupa before the dream is realized? What's the India story for Trivor / Brenva / Rialto?
BR: It’s an exciting time to be in inkjet. Today’s production inkjet offerings are transforming the graphic communications industry with key technology enhancements that enable an easier path to entry, lower production economics, and offer greater productivity and flexibility. According to InfoTrends, production colour inkjet print will account for 57% of the total production digital colour page volume by 2019. This represents a tremendous opportunity for print providers and the time to get in the inkjet game is now. 

The Xerox Rialto 900 inkjet press offers first-of-its kind features and carves out a new space within the booming production colour inkjet segment. It is the world’s only fully-integrated roll-to-sheet, narrow web inkjet press designed for print providers who produce 1.5- to 5-million impressions monthly. It has the smallest footprint of any inkjet press on the market – 11.9 x 5.1 feet/ 3.58 x 1.55 meters (including the press tower) – a cost-effective option for various production environments. The device offers the speed and image quality required to take on full-colour, personalised direct-mail, statements and book production. Its all-in-one design means the front-end controller, paper roll and finishing components are housed within the machine – a space saver and service convenience.